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The Grace of God
On October 31st 2008 a drug addict of ten years came home and passed out after a hard night of drinking and doing drugs. The next afternoon he awoke in deep despair. His life was a mess, he was a functioning drug addict, but his life was an endless cycle of depravity and partying. He was ready to end it all. As he laid on his couch contemplating suicide he noticed a Bible on his bookshelf. He had received this Bible a few months earlier from a friend of his brothers. After receiving it, it was placed on the bookshelf and forgotten. Maybe it was the thought of death or maybe something else, but something or someone compelled him to get off the couch and get that Bible that afternoon. He continued laying on the couch contemplating suicide but now he was clinching the Bible tightly in his hands. After about an hour he opened the Bible and began reading the book of Matthew. That man, was me, TJ Lindsey.
I had grown up in a religion grounded in genealogy and law. I was expecting to open the Bible and find nothing but a list of rules and genealogies. Upon opening the book of Matthew I was not surprised to find a genealogy, but I decided to keep reading. I don’t know what I was hoping for, maybe some rules and guidelines to help me live better. That was not what I found. I read about a man, who was God, who was a Savior and King sent to save His people. This man’s name was Jesus. He lived a perfect life, fulfilling every part of God’s righteous law, but He didn’t do this for himself, He did it on behalf of His people. He was hung on a cross, beaten and mocked. He died. The Savior of the world, died. This was not what His followers were expecting. They were defeated and they fled. Then three days later……….. He rose! The savior had died for the sins of His people. He had died for the sins of the world. He died to save a people for Himself. Three days later he came out of the grave. The savior defeated death! Not just for himself but for us also. He had lived a substitutionary life and died a substitutionary death so that through faith in Him we could be saved from the judgment to come, but not only that, we could be freed from the sin that holds us so tightly.
I had heard this story before, but not like this. I was told Jesus came to feel what we feel, and to suffer as we suffer. I had heard that he did this so that we can be forgiven and if we do all that he commanded, we would be able to live with him someday. But that is not what the Jesus of the Bible was doing. Jesus made it clear that we are all evil. We do bad things because we are bad, it is a heart issue. We need to be changed by God. We can’t just change our actions, it’s more than that. You don’t become a sinner by sinning, you sin because you are a sinner by nature. The religious leaders, at that time, were really good at doing the “righteous” things. But Jesus exposed their wicked hearts. We need more than just someone to sympathize with us. We need someone to take our sin and to give us their righteousness. That is what Jesus accomplished for those who will trust in Him. Not only are we forgiven of all our sins, but we are also clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ Himself.
I couldn’t believe what I had just read. But, something incredible happened that I didn’t understand at the time. It’s called being “born again.” I did believe, I was saved, and I was changed. God had granted me repentance and faith in His beloved Son. Everyone who turns to God in faith in Jesus Christ will be forgiven and clothed in His righteousness.
Everything changed for me that day. I no longer had a desire to do the drugs I had loved and been addicted to for nearly ten years. I had a deep desire to know God and to obey Him. You hear a lot about miracles, my friends, this is a miracle. God can take sinners and change them in an instant. That is a miracle. The sin I once loved I began to hate and to resist. By God’s grace I found a church and began fellowshipping and serving. A few weeks after this, on November 28th 2010 I was baptized in Rockport Reservoir surrounded by my new family in Christ.
Life has not been the same since that day. I still struggle with sin and still fail at times, but God changed me that day and He continues to even today. That drug addict of ten years is now a full time missionary in Lima Peru. Instead of spending my time partying, I now serve a group of very poor Peruvian children teaching them the Bible. In my spare time I go throughout Lima preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the public squares. By God's grace I am what I am.